5 women accuse architect Richard Meier of sexual harassment

NEW YORK — Prize-winning architect Richard Meier is facing sexual-harassment accusations from several women going back decades and is taking a six-month leave from the New York- and Los Angeles-based firm he founded.

Four women who worked with Meier and a fifth who met him on a project have detailed encounters in which they say he sexually harassed them.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the earliest accusation dates to the 1980s, when Meier was designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Furniture designer Carol Vena-Mondt said Meier invited her to a dinner at his home, where she turned out to be the only guest, and tried to forcefully engage in sexual activity.

"I twisted and pulled away from him, and he grabbed one of my arms and started dragging me down the hallway toward the bedroom," Vena-Mondt told the Times.

The other allegations come from women who worked with Meier in the 2000s and include recountings of Meier exposing himself to two of the women at his apartment and showing a third woman photographs he had taken of naked women and asking her to undress. The fourth woman said Meier grabbed her underwear through her dress at a company party.

Meier, who's 83, said he would be on leave effectively immediately from Richard Meier & Partners Architects, which has been involved in projects all over the world.

"I am deeply troubled and embarrassed by the accounts of several women who were offended by my words and actions," Meier said in a statement. "While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior."

Meier is a winner of the Pritzker Prize, the most celebrated award in architecture. His firm has taken on a number of high-profile projects, including a building for the High Museum of Art and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

The firm said its projects would be overseen by a partner in its Los Angeles office and by associate partners in its New York headquarters.

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